'Ever wondered' about Marketing Week's Russell Parsons?

We caught up with the editor of Marketing Week, Russell Parsons, to find out a bit more about him. A personal friend of Oystercatchers with Marketing Week being a sister brand.

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Russell is the award-winning editor of the UK’s most prominent marketing title. He is responsible for leading Marketing Week's content strategy across several platforms. Russell is also a trusted authority on marketing issues, delivering keynote speeches and hosting and appearing on panels at industry events. He first joined Marketing Week as a reporter in 2009.                               


 What does your morning routine look like? 

My alarm goes off at quarter to six when I reach and slap the snooze button in anger and repeat at least twice. I have it on at five-minute intervals so will get up at about six. I then stagger into the bathroom where I play BBC Radio 4’s Today Show whilst I shower. Coffee and cereal soon follow while I check emails and social media. I find Twitter and LinkedIn ease me into the day.  

My other half and daughter are usually an hour behind me in routine so I see them as I leave. Generally, I cycle to work and arrive between 8 and half past.

Where is your favourite place to grab breakfast on your way into the office? 

Well I tend to eat it at home but if I’m treating myself, I am partial to a McDonalds breakfast.

What’s your favourite lunch spot at work?

Since we’ve moved from Soho I find this question harder to answer – Waterloo’s options are a bit more limited so I am restricted to Coco di Mama or M&S – unless I have a lunch meeting when I cross the river into the oasis of Soho in London’s swinging West End. 

What does an average working day have in store for you?

Well the great thing is, it’s never the same. It depends on the day of the week, time of the month, month of the year. It might be determined  by deadlines, events or presenting and preparing for podcasts. At the moment we’ve just launched the Marketing Week Masters awards, where we celebrate and reward strategic effectiveness and innovative thinking.

What is the most random thing on your desk? 

Emma Cartwright’s (Oystercatchers) octopus charger that I stole – she’s yet to ask for it back….

What’s the best thing about your job? 

The variety of what I’m tasked with is a plus. I enjoy having an impact and what we do often makes a difference to how people do and think about their job.

Who was your last email from? 

Stefan Tornquist, SVP, Research and Content Strategy at Econsultancy, asking for my feedback on a study that we're doing with Econsultancy about the impact of coronavirus on marketing and marketers (you can take part in it here).

What is the best piece of advice you have received? 

Professionally I would say:

A former editor of mine very early in my career said “nothing ever happens in a vacuum” – meaning nothing should be taken at face value.

And the second piece of advice is that you shouldn’t focus on what people say, but rather analyse what they mean. It enables you to offer genuine insight.

And personally, I would say:

Be kind. It’s nice to be nice.

What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’?

I was a fantasist when I was young and was obsessed by pop music, and not just the music, but the process. I never dreamt of being a pop star (mainly because I couldn’t play an instrument!) but I did want to be a manager.

I manged an imaginary band and I used to lay in bed at night writing chapters in my head for the next pages of their careers. I can’t remember what I called them though!

A more grounded ambition was to be a journalist.  However, I didn’t get around to doing anything about that until I was 30.

What’s your current favourite campaign and why? 

There’s a lot of stretching in brands’ use of social media. Countless examples of brands tapping into the zeitgeist, piggy backing on pop culture or trying to engage influencers.

Greggs’ launch of its vegan sausage roll was an example of adopting the right tone, while getting more for your money. You have probably read the story of its iPhone parody, and Piers Morgan baiting.

The campaign ticked all the marketing boxes – awareness, a huge share of voice and a spike in sales. This wasn’t just a cheap stunt that boosted quarter sales; it was punchy, honest and personable – entirely in keeping with the brand’s tone of voice. As a result, Greggs closed the year with the highest awareness and perception it had seen in seven years. It was also partly responsible for it winning the Marketing Week Masters award for Brand of the Year.

Do you have any advice for someone just starting out in the industry?

For those looking to get into journalism, I would advise people to get as much and as varied an experience whilst studying as possible; there’s no substitute for actually doing a job – theory is one thing but practice another. It’s also important to retain a curiosity and it pays to be sceptical and question.

If my advice for someone in the marketing industry would be to make sure you take a step back and think about strategy before you jump straight in to tactics. Don’t think about marketing as communication via whatever cool social media platform is out there. Think of it as delivering on business objectives.

And a light hearted one to finish on – If you could have any super power?

I would love to be able to go back to moments of great pop cultural significance and see what situation they came from for myself.



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